Inside Track on Music Row – May Music News (2018)

inside track on music row by preshias Harris


Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. – Psalm 98:4


“Think of music as the whipped cream on the hot chocolate of Life.” – Wolfman Jack.


Jason Aldean’s hard-charging eighth studio album REARVIEW TOWN (Broken Bow Records) has earned the No. One position on Billboard’s all-genre Top 200 Album chart. Becoming only the second Country act to score four consecutive chart-toppers in history, Aldean drew 183,000 equivalent album units in its first week of release making it the biggest Country debut of 2018. Aldean has been racking up TV and radio appearances following the April 13 release of the new album, including stops at the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Night With Stephen Colbert, iHeartCountry’s YouTube channel and Sirius XM’s The Highway. Aldean’s new single, ‘You Make It Easy,’ from the album is already at Country radio and impacting charts. He has scored 19 No. One hits, more than 15 million total album sales and dozens of sold-out stadium shows. Check out upcoming tour dates at

In celebration of his 25th anniversary as a recording artist, Collin Raye will release a new legacy album titled ‘Collin Raye — 25 Years, 25 Hits’ on Tuesday, May 15.  The ACM Award-winning artist has recut 25 of his hit songs, including all 16 No. 1s, along with 3 bonus tracks, to celebrate his silver anniversary. “For years, people have asked me, ‘Why don’t you have a collection of all of your hits on one record, instead of several greatest hits albums each with different songs?’ Well, now I do — all 25 hits on one album.” Raye will celebrate the release at the Grand Ole Opry on Tuesday, May 15.  Album pre-sale orders started May 1, at


Thomas Rhett has announced his autobiographical anthem “Life Changes,” the title-track from his Billboard 200 chart-topping album (The Valory Music Co.), as his next single. The song co-written by Thomas Rhett is now at Country radio, following all three of LIFE CHANGES’ singles – PLATINUM-certified “Craving You” and “Marry Me” as well as GOLD-certified “Unforgettable” – which all earned chart-topping success.  
“This song is basically my autobiography in three minutes,” Thomas Rhett said. “It covers my college years, marrying Lauren, becoming a dad and the evolution of my music career. It’s definitely the most personal song I’ve ever written, but we all go through a lot in life whatever the story is, so I think the sentiment is something a lot of people can relate to.”
Rhett’s latest album, LEAVE RIGHT NOW: THE REMIXES, dropped in mid-April delivering fresh takes on the track from his Billboard 200 chart-topper LIFE CHANGES. The collection features a reimagined version of the song from PLATINUM-selling DJ Martin Jensen, who brings a new dimension to “Leave Right Now” by combining Rhett’s soulful vocals with his own trademark sound. Rhett’s versatility shines through on each track that takes on a life of its own, from Jensen’s energetic, synth-driven remix to the more raw, acoustic Nashville Remix.  More info at


Kenny Chesney has received a nomination in the 2018 Innovation in Music Awards.  His nomination comes in the Creative/Artist category.  Chesney joins rocker/producer Dan Auerbach, producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell), Kacey Musgraves and Midland in the Creative/Artist category. Chesney is being recognized at an event that also includes music business, broadcasting and touring innovators like SiriusXM’s Steve Blatter, Music Healthcare Alliance founder Tatum Allsep, Opry Entertainment’s Sally Williams and AEG’s Louis Messina among the nominees. “I work hard at trying to stay cutting edge, trying to figure out how to make the music better and take the fan experience to new places,” Chesney said. “I don’t know whether I’m innovative or not, I just try to give the music everything we can think of that makes sense.” Ticket info for Chesney’s ‘Trip Around the Sun Tour’ and more


Photo Credit: Jim Wright

For nearly a decade, Darius Rucker has spearheaded an event focused on amazing music, memorable collaborations and heartfelt stories resulting in over $1 million-and-counting raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Rucker continues that tradition this summer with his 9th Annual “Darius and Friends” benefit concert. The event, which unofficially kicks-off CMA Music Fest week, is set for Monday, June 4 returning to Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium for a second year. Tickets are now available at  “When you see first-hand what this organization can do for families, it’s remarkable,” Rucker reflects. “Over the years we’ve met so many survivors, families of patients and volunteers whose lives have been changed by St. Jude. It’s one of my favorite shows of the year.” Tickets start at $50 for General Admission and go up to $150 for VIP options. Tickets are also available through the Ryman box office and



There have been many books written about Johnny Cash, but ‘The Man in Song: A Discography Biography of Johnny Cash’ (University of Arkansas Press), is the first to examine Cash’s incredible life through the lens of the songs he wrote and recorded.  Music journalist and historian John Alexander has drawn on decades of studying Cash’s music and life, from his difficult depression-era Arkansas childhood through his death in 2003, to tell a life story through songs familiar and obscure. In discovering why Cash wrote a given song or chose to record it, Alexander introduces readers anew to a man whose primary consideration of any song was the difference music makes in people’s lives, and not whether the song would become a hit. The book is now available wherever books are sold and online at


FRONT AND CENTER, Sideline’s first outing for the Mountain Home Music label, is available for purchase now.  Produced by Tim Surrett, the project has already landed a #1 Bluegrass Today chart single with the compelling ‘Thunder Dan.’ Fans can learn more about Sideline and FRONT AND CENTER from interviews and features at and watch the ‘Thunder Dan’ companion video on The Country Network (TCN), Bluegrass Ridge, The Alternate Root and America’s Country Connection.  More info at


Naomi Judd is on top again with the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Country Music. Following national television appearances on CBS’ The Talk and Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, “River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope” ascended to the top of Amazon’s Best Sellers. Naomi was also featured on the cover of the April issue of ‘First for Women’ magazine.  This summer the country music icon will return to the ball field for the City of Hope 28th Annual Celebrity Softball Game in Nashville, Tenn. Naomi participated in the game in the late 80s and early 90s and is dusting off her glove to return as a play-by-play Guest Announcer Saturday, June 9 (tickets available via Ticketmaster). More at
(SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION NEWS) My educational book “College of Songology” is a comprehensive handbook about protecting your intellectual property and making money with your music as a singer and/or songwriter. It is available in a print version and for download as an e-book on all devices. Check out 


Better Together’ is the second single from Craig Wayne Boyd’s October 2017 release TOP SHELF, the Texan’s debut album since winning the highest ever rated season of NBC’s The Voice. The romantic ballad was written by Boyd, Brett James and Will Edwards, and tells the story of Boyd and his wife. Confessing that although he’s seen and been to all of these places before, it’s an entirely different experience with her by his side. “‘Better Together’ is a song we wrote about an experience on top of a hotel in Santa Monica with my then girlfriend now wife, Taylor,” says Boyd during an interview on the nationally syndicated Ty, Kelly & Chuck show. “It was an experience that will forever be with me and am glad that I get to share it with the world.”  It follows the album’s lead single, “Stuck in My Head,” that was released in late 2017. More at


Dierks Bentley will release his ninth studio album, THE MOUNTAIN (Capitol Records Nashville), June 8th. Bentley co-wrote 10 of the 13 new tracks that are unified by themes of presence and positivity, and range in style from textured rock to acoustic folk, feeling both rooted and expansive at the same time.  THE MOUNTAIN’s story begins in the Rocky Mountain resort town of Telluride, Colorado, which every summer plays host to a celebrated bluegrass festival. Bentley has attended the festival multiple times over the years, but after performing on the festival’s main stage in 2017, the idyllic surroundings became more than a much-needed getaway. “I found myself there, constantly reaching for my guitar,” Bentley said. “It was like a gravitational pull. That town and those people just make you want to be creative, I couldn’t describe it. I was like ‘How do I tell everyone in Nashville this is what I want to write about?’ I realized I couldn’t bring it back, so I had to take everyone out there.” Tour info & videos at


Image result for bobby marquezBobby Marquez is an award-winning songwriter known for moving boots across a dance floor, but on April 28, his upbeat honk tonk tunes set the pace for thousands of sneakers hitting the pavement for the annual St. Jude Rock N Roll Marathon. Marquez and legendary fiddle player, Ernie Reed of Mel Tillis’s Statesiders fame, motivated runners in the final stretch at mile 19 in East Nashville.  The Marathon is one of three annual events Marquez participates in to raise funds for a charity very close to his heart, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Bobby Marquez and Workout Anytime 24/7 present their annual Country With Heart Benefit on June 9th this year at The Nashville Nightlife Theatre with an all-star lineup. And Marquez will entertain alongside Mark Chesnutt in September at the annual Buck Creek Trailride benefiting St. Jude. Tour info, music and more at


Nashville is getting ready for the 2018 CMA Music Festival, set for June 7 through June 10. Taking the CMA Fest stages are Trace Adkins, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Tracy Lawrence, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, Keith Urban, and Chris Young, LOCASH, Maddie & Tae, Neal McCoy, William Michael Morgan, Michael Ray and many more.  Even more acts can be seen and heard at the Chevrolet Park Stage in Walk of Fame Park. Tickets for the Nightly Concerts at Nissan Stadium may still be available at or through the CMA Box Office at 1-800-CMA-FEST. Outdoor daytime stages including Chevrolet Riverfront and Park Stages, as well as the Gildan Broadway Stage at Hard Rock Cafe, are free and open to the public.


Maddie & Tae are back with their highly-anticipated new single ‘Friends Don’t,’ the duo’s first song since signing with Mercury Nashville. The song matches the pair’s celebrated harmonies with an intimate take on the anticipation and excitement around a friendship’s developing possibilities. ‘Friends Don’t,’ written by Maddie Marlow and Taylor (Tae) Dye along with Justin Ebach and Jon Nite, is the first single from the Platinum-selling duo’s forthcoming sophomore album. Set to impact country radio May 14, fans can listen to and download ‘Friends Don’t’ now at and view the lyric video at The new album will follow Maddie & Tae’s critically-acclaimed debut, ‘Start Here.’  News, music and tour dates at


The second season of the TV show ‘Songs and Stories with John Berry’ is now airing.  The live audience tapings took place in the Natchez Hills Winery, located at The Fontanel Nashville. Tickets sold out before the artist line-up was made public, reflecting on the impact season one had on fans of the show. The televised show airs weekly on Heartland Television, The Family Channel, The Country Network, Roku (via Heartland), AMG TV, Country TV (New Zealand), Keep It Country TV (UK) and more. Upcoming shows include Radney Foster (week of May 7), Terri Clark (May 14), Tracy Lawrence (May 21) and Darryl Worley (May 28), with more scheduled to air in June. More info at


David Frizzell has announced the inaugural LeftyFest Music Festival to be held in Corsicana, Texas on Saturday, June 16, 2018. The festival, in cooperation with the city of Corsicana, honors the enduring musical legacy of Lefty Frizzell, one of American music’s most iconic and influential singer/stylists of any genre. Lefty, who would’ve turned 90 this year, was a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honors his contributions to entertainment.
David Frizzell is the younger brother of Lefty. He toured with Lefty in his youth, before being signed to a record deal of his own.  The free festival will be held in Corsicana’s Jester Park, home to the Lefty Frizzell Museum and statue. LeftyFest performers include David Frizzell, Lacy J. Dalton, Paulette Carlson, Marty Haggard, Allen Frizzell, Sarah Patrick, Aaron Copeland and other popular Texas regional artists. Details at


The Grand Ole Opry welcomed home Bobby Bare as an official Opry member on April 7, on the Country Music Hall of Famer’s 83rd birthday. Bare had been a member of the Opry cast in the 1960s and 70s, after which his official Opry membership lapsed. Garth Brooks took the stage and said, “I gotta tell you, this might be one of the coolest honors I have ever had bestowed on me. I don’t know if you know, but it was less than a month ago I was standing right here when I inducted the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, a kid named Chris Janson. Sweet guy. He sat in this circle of wood and he cried like a baby. And you know why he cried; because he gets it. He gets what it’s like to be a member of the family of the Grand Ole Opry.”  Brooks continued, “The Grand Ole Opry is family. Family is forever. So Mr. Bare, young man — as my dad would say — it is my honor, it is the Grand Ole Opry’s honor, to officially welcome you back, the great Bobby Bare, to the Grand Ole Opry.”  More at


Rhonda Vincent, joined by Dolly Parton, is featured on the new tribute album that honors Elton John and his co-writing partner Bernie Taupin. Restoration features some of the biggest stars in music, from Willie Nelson to Vince Gill, all singing songs written by one of music history’s most famous songwriting teams.  Bernie, a fan and friend, personally asked Rhonda to be on the album.


Image result for the Nashville Association of Talent DirectorsThe Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD) partnered with Communities In Schools of Tennessee (CISTN) to equip DuPont Tyler Middle School with the ability to provide clean clothes for its students by donating a new washer and dryer. Children in metro Nashville schools often miss school due to lack of clean clothes, therefore NATD hopes to help increase classroom attendance with this donation.  The Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD) was founded in 1958 and professionally represents, directs, and promotes the entertainment industry through its members. Today those members generate over $300 million dollars annually for Nashville-based artists. More about NATD at


(Big Machine Records)

Long before they were playing their hits like ‘Drinkin’ Problem’ and ‘Burn Out’ for thousands of people every night, Midland paid their dues in a lot of bars and clubs, some a little more questionable than others.  According to Mark Wystrach, “We’ve seen it all. We’ve showed up, we’ve had to fight with bar owners to get our money. We’ve damn near had to fight our way in and out of venues. We have fought inside of venues, we’ve helped break up fights, we’ve had things thrown at us.” Mark recalls one particular set of gigs they played just after they signed their record deal.  He says, “We played a residency here in Nashville and it’s infamously called ‘Three Nights, Three Fights,’ cause people get fired up and it is drinking music. So we’ve seen it all. It’s been wild.” Midland will be playing the festival circuit this summer and opening for Thomas Rhett this fall, hopefully with a  few less fists flying. Tour info at

(Cold River Records)

  W in,  E ncourage,  R ejoice,  D aily. Each month a new charity will be selected with all proceeds raised from WERD T-shirt sales at shows and online merchandise store to be donated to the selected charity. Country fans have come to know and love Drew Baldridge for his upbeat, dance-worthy and “functry” tunes, but the rising country star has now shared a softer side to his music with the release of his latest single, ‘Gentle Man.’  The new song, co-penned by Baldridge, Chris Yarber and Robert Arthur, is the second release from his forthcoming sophomore album due out later in the year.  The ballad is a love song, but its inspiration surprisingly came from the country newcomer’s role models. Baldridge explains, “I was raised to always take care of the people around you and to always help someone in need.  All of my life I have seen great examples of love and kindness, and it has made me want to be a better man; a gentle man.”  Music and tour info at


Image result for nashville insider‘Nashville Insider,’ a syndicated country music and entertainment news series, is now airing on WTVF-NC5+ on Saturdays at 7:00pm. WTVF NC5+ is available in Nashville on Comcast/Xfinity and Charter/Spectrum. Beginning in September 2018, Nashville Insider will air on WTVF (CBS). Other current nationwide airings include Heartland TV (Roku), The Country Network (Roku), The Family Channel, AMG TV, Ride TV (Dish) and a growing network of broadcast TV stations across the country. Details at


Image result for music biz conferenceBart Herbison Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association said it best, “Music Biz 2018 is one the top Music Conferences around the globe.” Around 1,500 music pros attend the event that annually brings together the influential decision makers from the world of music. It takes place at the Omni Hotel Nashville, May 14th to the 17th. More at


Image result for bill andersonWhisperin’ Bill Anderson has released a sentimental new single, ‘Until The Light Comes On Again,’ with all proceeds being donated to Sarah Cannon Fund at the Community Foundation. The video for the single exclusively premiered on Anderson was inspired to pen the single after watching his longtime girlfriend, Vickie, bravely face a cancer diagnosis. The poignant, beautiful tune brings a message of hope and is a testament to anyone who’s facing a challenge in their life. Anderson and Vickie are featured in the video which comes fresh off the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame announcing Anderson’s induction this June.  More details at


Henry Paul and Dave Robbins, members of country group BlackHawk, as well as southern rock band The Outlaws, paid visits to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and MusiCares to deliver donations raised for each organization.  Paul and Robbins presented a $40,000 check to Vanderbilt (on behalf of BlackHawk’s Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Research Fund) and a $20,000 check to MusiCares (on behalf of The Outlaws’ Fallen Outlaw Fund). “The [two funds] were both formed to help give back to two very worthwhile causes in the name of BlackHawk and Outlaw fans, respectively,” says Paul. “Raising money for cancer research at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center and also for MusiCares, an organization that helps fund healthcare costs for uninsured musicians, is the cause. Honoring former founding BlackHawk member Van Stephenson and former founding Outlaws members Hughie Thomasson, Billy Jones and Frank O’Keefe, by perpetuating their memory in the name of these two charities, is our goal.” Since 2006, BlackHawk’s Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Research Fund has generated $200,000 for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Over the past three years, The Outlaws’ Fallen Outlaw Fund has donated nearly $50,000 to MusiCares.


Image result for summer namm 2018It’s almost Summer NAMM time again! On Saturday June 30 at Music City Center, Summer NAMM will host the inaugural Make Music Experience, an all-day, all-access pass for consumer and prosumer audiences who want to demo the latest music and pro audio gear, meet with top music manufacturers, and explore career-enhancing education and networking opportunities with the music industry’s top insiders. The Make Music Experience day is an invitation to musicians, songwriters, music educators and students, as well as sound and studio professionals to experience the members-only Summer NAMM show, the annual mid-year gathering of the music products and pro audio industry, June 28-30 in Nashville. Emerging and established music pros seeking a jump-start to their careers can participate in a robust lineup of NAMM Idea Center educational sessions and panels carefully curated to enhance the careers of artists, musicians, songwriters and producers. Industry experts, thought leaders and Nashville personalities will cover topics ranging from cutting-edge social media and DIY marketing strategies to an insider’s look at growing a loyal fan base to insights from top artists on how to get songwriting “cuts.”
Attendees will also have the rare chance to interact with the world’s most established and successful brands and demo new products from companies that include Antelope Audio, BOSS, C.F. Martin, Casio, D’Addario, D’Angelico, Fender Musical Instrument Corporation, Fishman Gretsch, Korg, PreSonus, Remo, Rupert Neve Designs, Yamaha, and many more. Music City Center’s NAMM Terrace Stage will provide live music all day from the region’s hottest talent representing multiple genres. Expanded lounges and food areas enhance the Summer NAMM experience and make it easy to grab a drink and connect with old friends or create new business contacts. Tickets to the Make Music Experience are now available for $10 online at and will be available at the door for $20 on Saturday, June 30. Hours are 10:00 – 5:00 p.m. A full line up of sessions, speakers, artist performances and more will be announced in the coming weeks.


The Nashville Songwriter’s Association International (NSAI) held their Spring #1 Party on April 23, recognizing 75 songwriters (23 songs) for their #1 achievements during the period of August 2017-December 2017.  At the brunch event, sponsored by SunTrust Bank and held at The Listening Room Cafe, the songwriters were presented plaques for topping the Billboard Country or Christian, Airplay, Digital, and Hot Charts and/or Mediabase Country Airplay Chart.  For a list of songs and award-winning songwriters, visit


‘That’s Where I Grew Up’ is the second single to be released from Reloaded — Shenandoah’s  first new album in 20 years that dropped in March 2018 — which blends live versions of their No. 1 hits with three brand-new tunes produced by Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts. A career milestone, Reloaded is Shenandoah’s highest debuting album ever on the Billboard charts.  Shenandoah partnered with Cumulus/Nash Icon to exclusively premiere to radio the new single. CUMULUS/NASH Icon has also invited Shenandoah to headline its monthly Rhythm and Boots event, along with Collin Raye, on Thursday, June 21, at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville. The band will perform a 45-minute set for fans with all of the tickets proceeds going towards Musicians on Call.  30th Anniversary Tour info at


In celebration of his albums, From A Room: Volume 1 and Volume 2, Chris Stapleton will hit the road again this year for his All-American Road Show tour. Dates include New York’s Madison Square Garden The Forum in LA, and Chicago’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheater among many others. The tour will feature Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb as special guests and tickets are on sale now. The Eagles are scheduled on a few of the dates as well.  

Recently Chris and his wife, Morgane, became parents of twins. On the same day…he won three ACM awards. FAST FACTS by GoGo Show Prep. ** Earlier this year, Chris won Grammy’s for Best Country Album (From A Room: Volume 1), Best Country Song (‘Broken Halos’) and Best Country Solo Performance (‘Either Way’) ** Chris is also featured on Restoration, the tribute album to Elton John & Bernie Taupin.


Ronnie McDowell is on an exciting new adventure, Painting America. It is the name of his new television show which sends the multi-talented star touring the country to find amazing stories to create his next great masterpiece. Each episode ends with a concert to unveil the paintings Ronnie creates from his journeys with proceeds going to local charities.  On May 19, 2018, fans are invited to take part in a special taping of Painting America in McDowell’s hometown of Portland, Tennessee. The next big unveil will be held at the Days Gone By Museum at 122 Davis Street in Portland, Tennessee. The beneficiary of this episode will be Christmas For Kids. For tickets, fans can call 615-325-4783.  McDowell will appear on Ray Steven’s national television show, CabaRay in June, and is also hosting his own cruise this year. Info at



Michael Ray has released emotional music video for his current Top-20 single, ‘Get To You,’ a track from his sophomore album, ‘Amos,’ named after his late grandfather. “‘Get To You’ is such a special song not only because it’s the first single off of Amos, but also because I feel that it’s something everyone can relate to on some level. I feel like we’ve all been on at least one side of this storyline,” said Ray.  “In my case, I’ve been on both sides.” Ray is set for a June 1 release of his true introductory album, AMOS (Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville). Promising his most personal to date. Ray’s grandfather, Amos, was a huge influence on him, fueling his love for country music. In fact, Ray first began singing and performing in his grandfather’s band when he was only nine years old. To this day he still plays Amos’ hand-me-down guitar, a 1978 Les Paul, as a reminder of the time they spent together sharing stories, learning songs and making memories.  AMOS features 11 tracks including ‘Get To You.’ More at


Image result for eric churchEric Church released a limited edition LP, 61 DAYS IN CHURCH, to mark Record Store day, April 21, 2018. The vinyl album, with only 2,500 copies pressed, was available only at participating record stores and includes Church’s covers of eight songs by Soundgarden, Billy Joel, Little Feat, Bob Seger and more.  All the songs were recorded at live events during Church’s 61-date ‘Holdin’ My Own’ tour. More info at




Luke Bryan and Kelsea Ballerini.

Send me music stuff, I love to get it! / TN/USA. Google “Preshias”

Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at Follow her blog at

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